Families forced to give up pets as housing crisis bites
The beloved family pet has become the latest victim of the housing crisis.
The dire shortage of accommodation, in both the residential rental and private housing markets, is leading to a massive surge in the number of dogs and cats that are being abandoned, because their owners are being made homeless or can't find landlords who will accept pets.
The issue hit home earlier this month when a heartbroken cat owner was forced to abandon her adult cat in a housing estate in Lucan, County Dublin, because she was made homeless.
The male cat, called "Sherdu" was left in a cat carrier along with a tragic handwritten note from "Sherdu's Mom" apologising for being forced to give him up.
It read: "Please help me. My name is Sherdu. I'm four years old, fully vaccinated and neutered. We are homeless and now we can't bring Sherdu with us. Could you look after him?
"He is so loving and friendly, a beautiful cat. He loves his food and to play with everyone.
"It kills me to write this letter, but our landlord wants us out today. Our lives are shattered. Please look after him, thank you,
Sherdu's Mom XXX."
DSPCA spokeswoman Gillian Bird said Sherdu was turned over to the animal shelter and is doing well as he awaits another loving owner to adopt him. But his sad story illustrates how the housing crisis is affecting not only families but their pets as well.
There were 86 dogs and cats on the waiting list for accommodation at the DSPCA's shelter in Rathfarnham last week, many abandoned for a variety of reasons, Ms Bird said.
While some owners are dumping their adult pets using "pathetic excuses" because they want to make room for home improvements or even a new puppy or kitten at Christmas, a lot of otherwise loving and responsible owners are being forced to abandon their pets simply because they have no where to house them, let alone themselves.
The problem has become so severe that the canine rescue charity Dog's Trust is to launch a public awareness campaign next year called 'Lets for Pets' to encourage landlords and local authorities to accept more tenants with pets.
"It's a major issue," Dog's Trust executive director Mark Beazley told the Sunday Independent.
He said he was shocked to learn by a recent survey that found the reason for dogs to be returned to the shelter after being adopted was due to homelessness of the owners due to repossession of their homes, eviction from rental properties or the inability to find pet-friendly housing.
"My heart breaks for these poor people. The last thing they want to do is give up their family pets. But it does have an impact on the dogs as well.
"Some of them shut down for three days when they come back to us after settling in with a loving family," he said.
Dan Fitzsimmons, owner of Lettingsagent.ie, said pets have always been regarded as somewhat of a liability by many landlords who fear they will cause damage.
But the housing crisis means that pet owners are often put at the bottom of the list of desirable tenants whether they are responsible pet owners and tenants or not.